My goal for this year is to read 105 books. That rounghly boils down to 8.75 books a month. For January I’m in a good spot since I’ve chalked up my eight books and am working on my February quota. This is only possible because I got a bit of a head start in December.
I just make it a point to read at minimum two hundred pages a day. But I am not sure that’s going to happen once I get going with classes and stuff. Usually I end up reading more then that, but those are exceptionally productive days. And that brings me to the reason for this post- this past Saturday was the first ever #NationalReadathon. (I tweeted about it, a lot, but didn’t have time to prepare a blog for you all, so follow me on twitter.)
The purpose of the National Read-a-thon is simply to get people to make more time to read. Millions of Americans still struggle with basic literacy, some 40% of American adults are either at or below basic reading proficiency, and 14% are fully illiterate. Sadly, according to the Pew, fewer Americans are reading, and thats a bad thing. Each year, millions of Americans are losing touch with the power and importance of reading books, especially generation X. Speaking of X, as Malcolm X said, “People don’t realize how a whole life can be changed by one book.”
From my the 2015 reading list so far, in total, I’ve finished the following books:
1. Iron John, by Robert Bly
2. Muhammad: Man and Prophet, by Adil Salahi
3. Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build a Future, by Peter Thiel
4. The Longest Way Home, by Andrew McCarthy
5. Stoicism, by John Sellars
6. Junipero Serra: California’s Founding Father, by Steven Hackel
7. The American Challenge, by JJ Servan-Schrieber
8. Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity, by John Gribbin
9. Dying to Win: Strategic Logic of Suicide Bombing, by Robert Pape
10. The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self Control, by Walter Mischel
What book did I read for the National Readathon?
Great question! I am currently engrossed by Plastic Words: The Tyranny of Modular Langauge by Uwe Proeksin. Plastic words, according to Poerksen, began as scientific words with specialized meanings. These were words like “Development,” “Project,” “Strategy,” and “Problem.”
Many had been imported from the vernacular languages to the sciences, but he finds that in recent decades they have migrated back into the vernacular—stripped of their specialized meanings and therefore these amorphous entities that could be used interchangeably and in whatever context devoid of any significant meaning, yet everyone will still understand what you are talking about, ambiguously.
Its because of their “lego like” quality that they have international currency and appear repeatedly in political speeches, government reports, and academic conferences. These plastic words invade the media and even private conversation. They displace more precise words with words that sound scientific but actually blur meaning and disable common language. We are at the mercy of these words because our economic policies and our neighborhoods, education and healthcare, are all molded by them.
Its a fascinating book and I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts that Proerksin presents about this big idea.